AKWA IBOM: A SON ALWAYS REMEMBERS.

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I read Nsikan James’s post celebrating our great state at 29. As expected, I couldn’t relate to his September 23rd experiences in a village primary in my native Itu, since I was born, ‘bread’, and ‘buttered’ in the township. But since Nsikan is a proper Itam village boy, I verily believe him, and do not doubt his experiences. However, I wonder why he didn’t attend tusher primary schools in Itu, which included NNMC Staff School, Itu, and the rest. Well, that is a story for another day!

In my day, September 23rd held much happiness and promise for my young mind. Do not be mistaken, this happiness I speak of was not for a nationalistic cause. I was simply glad that in preparation for the State’s Anniversary, drums in the school band would be repaired, and once again I could find an avenue to express in unruly languages, my love for the ancient art of percussion. Weeks before the D-Day, a certain teacher, whom we shall call “Uncle X”, would identify students who in his opinion were persons of good character, which at the time, was what it took to man the drum stand. For drumming, especially drumming in QIC Nursery/Primary School Uyo, was not an activity to be left in the hands of riffraffs. He would then invite them to special practices every day after break periods, to hone their skills in the noble art of percussion.

Therefore I was happy, even if my chances of being selected into the elite band squad were slim on account of yours truly being a recurrent decimal in the “Noise Makers List”, I was glad because after the D-Day, the bands would still be new, and since Uncle X gave no hoots whatsoever about who played the drums post the D-Day, I was very sure that if I arrived school early enough on an Assembly day (which was actually  every day), I would stand a good chance of seizing a tenor drum or snare. And I would play even if I was not early enough to not be the drum holder. Being the drum holder, you could still play if you disturbed the sticks holding player with statements like, “let me play nah, it’s my turn…you’ve played enough”. The cymbals were strictly for the females. Strictly. In fact, as a guy, it was an act of falling hands to be seen playing cymbals.

Another reason that the Anniversary occasioned jollity in my spirit was because it afforded me an opportunity to not go to school. On good days such as the one in examination, we would go to the stadium along Obio Imo and support those amongst us who were lucky enough to be selected by the great Uncle X for the march-past. If you could not attend, you had no worries; Madam Magaret Eshiet was ever ready to regale listeners on radio with a graphic account of the goings-on at the stadium.  Those were good times. I still remember the N10 groundnut that I bought in a paper cone during one of the anniversaries; today I buy its equivalent for N100 with much abeg. It’s a brave new world… Well, back to our march-past squad. Not like they ever won first prize anyway, but we supported our own. The closest we ever came to winning was when we took “third” position, and that was because Police Children School did not participate in the march-past that year. You know, Police Children School always took first; another school in Ewet Housing took second; and one other school always occupied third position.

We were always content to buy saccharine disguised as ice cream, and hail our classmates on the field. Even when our drum major’s stick fell in the height of his display, we hailed as much as we hailed when they rightly delivered their eyes right to the Governor.

We were sure to grumble, on our way back home, about how once again we were cheated out of the prizes. A classmate or two would draw us into confidence, and inform the rest of us about a secret wink they had seen being exchanged between one of the teachers from the luckier schools, and one of the judges. On account of this discovery from our comrade(s), we would journey home, informing whoever was unfortunate to ask us our position, that we were unjustly cheated out of the prizes category.

On this great day in 2016, I am filled with nostalgia. Sitting here in Enugu, I think of the land that I have loved, and cherished. It has not been easy, but it has been an amazing journey. Under our very eyes, things have changed remarkably. Though much has been achieved; much more needs to be done. Our leaders must be sincere about making things work. We as a people must innovate, or die. Our reliance on Crude Oil must give way to other creative ways of raising revenue. We, as one people must rise up, and demand better leadership from our leaders, it is our right, and it is our duty.

Happy Anniversary, Akwa Ibom.

From a Proud Son.

P/S: To an old friend and a true daughter of the soil, Enwongo Cleopas, please accept my wishes for a happy birthday. You will do great things; I know this for a fact.

#TBT AUSTERITY MEASURES

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I have taken it upon myself to do a special throwback edition to commemorate #tbt. Oh, by the way, by means of a digression, have y’all noticed how the internet has changed our lives? Before now, Thursdays had no special tags. Well, except for the occasional “don’t forget that Thursday is Prayer meeting…” “Hey, don’t miss the meetings at the club on Thursdays…” and stuff. But now people spend hours trying to pick out a picture, video, or event that happened in the past so they can re-post them on Thursdays in the spirit of #ThrowBackThursday. It’s a brave new world, isn’t it?

Now back to my gist. This throwback edition is a storification of events which took place in Law School under the invocation of the policy of Austerity Measures. Austerity Measures has been defined by those who ought to know, as “Official actions taken by the government during a period of adverse economic conditions, to reduce its budget deficit using a combination of spending cuts or tax rises” (Lexicon, Financial Times; 2016). All that turenchi merely means “spending cuts.”

Back then, we had a practice of living comfortably. I will start with Arinze. He never lacked juice or substances in that family in his wardrobe… He never ate without a drink, never missed a meal, always had hours of talk time on his phone, etc… Speedo? He was a silent baller, block him at Mammy and you’ll see that his plate could make an indigent bar aspirant go a-stealing. Tony never said no to confectionaries, never turned his back on a can of coke before lectures, never said never to a meal at the dining, never said maybe to a plate of nicely made indomie at Ali’s, or Ngozi’s. Mark T joined the squad late, and he too never turned back at an opportunity to spend money. It is platitudinous to remind you that all these actors mentioned above never flinched at sponsoring good times at Lovitos.

Here comes the “but”. You see, few times arose, when things were not so rosy, when even Arinze would not have even a medium pack of Chivita in his wardrobe; when Speedo would be content to take his meal in peace without a lap of chicken mocking at the world of the indigent; when Tony would calmly march to class without first branching to help himself to a plastic can of coke, and a bigger plastic 1.5 litre of chilled water. THIS WAS THE PERIOD OF AUSTERITY MEASURES. However, AUSTERITY MEASURES would not commence unless a declaration of AUSTERITY was made!

No one was vested with the official right to declare AUSTERITY! It could be declared by anyone, at any time, and if the Council (Arinze, Speed, Tony, Yours Truly and other unofficial members) agreed unanimously, then AUSTERITY MEASURES would commence immediately. Oftentimes, austerity was declared in the mornings, by 7am, upon waking up and assessing critically the state of the finances. At some other times, it was declared at noon, upon returning from Akwa Best, and seeing that leakages needed to be plugged. Sometimes, it was declared at night while one held meetings with one’s self to analyze expenses. A simple declaration of, “OH BOY, AUSTERITY MEASURES DEY NEEDED OH!” sufficed. Sometimes, Tony screamed from his room upstairs, “OH BOY, AUSTERITY!” and it was deemed a good declaration. I can only remember once when this declaration was made, and someone rose to oppose it. I remember it vividly because it was a very unusual opposition made on very unusual grounds. On the said day, Yours Truly had declared austerity, and Speed countered same, saying “Abeg, I be child of God, I no dey subject to austerity!” However, weeks later, guess who made the declaration? Right! His faith had wavered like Peter upon seeing the storms.

The amazing thing was that our declaration of Austerity affected other people such as Dozie, Ebi, Izuchukwu, Dada, Leroy, and the rest, as they also took the cue when the council decided, and equally adopted austerity measures. Sometimes, they invoked their own austerity measures without the knowledge of the council, and no one objected. In fact, I decided on writing this article after remembering that Ebi had, just last week, reminded me of the merits of the declaration, and urged me to make the declaration during CDS. Well, I declined because it was too early!

Finally, AUSTERITY MEASURES is a good way to live on lean means. It separates hunger from long-throat, and gives you perspective on what is really necessary. We still met the “at least two and a half proper meals a day” target, but all the orishirishi were held in abeyance. By the way, I need to inform you that there is a class below the class of AUSTERITY MEASURES. This is a class you should never spend twenty four (24) hours in. It is the class of “E DON RED!”

In the class of “E DON RED”, you don’t declare austerity. It is the class you fall into because you were not wise to declare austerity when you should have. There are persons who repeatedly fell into this class, but mention shall not be made of them, to protect their integrity. As I said, you don’t declare anything in this class, in short, the only thing that will be emerging from your mouth will be pleas upon pleas;

“epp me bros…”

“show me love nah…”

“abeg give me scholarship nah…”

 

PS: Happy birthday to Minika Efa, Godfrey Eyibio, Marvelous Inyang, and the rest of my friends whose birthdays fell on today! God bless you all!

The Long Walk to The Bar.

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The thing about having to wait two months for the results to an examination you wrote, is that it gives you ample opportunity to do either of these three things: one, regurgitate all the mistakes you made in your scripts, and paint all scenarios of a well deserved failure; or two, pray fervently to God to cover all errors and grant you success; or three, just chill and wait for what is to come. This was what happened after I finished my bar examinations on 22nd May, 2015.

I did all three. Sometimes my mind surprised me due to its alacrity in changing its disposition. One minute I’m saying, “Naah, nothing! I no fit fail!”, the next minute I’m remembering how I goofed in Civil Litigation. I avoided the tag “Barrister” because there was a negative committee in my head saying, “you dey answer Barr, what if you fail?” Finally, the results were posted in the unholy hour of 12am or so soon thereafter, on the sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and fifteen. And I, even I, Edidiong Ime Effiong Emah Akpan, was successful. It ended in praise.

I cannot even begin to describe the long and torturous path I took to the bar. Nah, I cannot. From the laborious years in the faculty of law, to the sprint which was the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, I toiled. It was windy. My head was bloody, but unbowed. God took to me, and I clung to him. In the face of uncertainty, he reassured me in Genesis 15: 1 “fear not, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward” and I was reassured. Godstar Egerue wrote, “God is real”, and I believe him. I believe him.

Seeing that I am about to join a profession that is already filled, my success in the exams is no more the first thing on my mind. The realities of what lies ahead for a new lawyer has been preoccupying my mind. For a second, I’m tempted to cry out, “Oh! If only I had at least a first class result, instead of two second class results!” because there is an automatic job for ‘first classers’. But you see, I found out that that too, was me not leaning on the everlasting arms! So I’m done worrying. I’ll send my resume to the best of firms, and trust God with the rest.

I know a couple of friends who didn’t make it in the bar exams. I’m really sad about them, and more so because I know how much they had prepared, and what this exams had meant to them. But the genius thing is not to give up. I know success will smile at them in the next round. Take heart, comrades, we will all sit together at the bar, someday.

This is me dedicating my success to God, and thanking everyone that believed it was possible.

Come October 2015, I will be writing my name in the biggest bar in Africa, and beginning a journey into known and unknown, charted and uncharted areas in the changing law. I congratulate all my colleagues who were successful, and wish them the best.

PS: It’s E. I. Effiong esq. The other three is for our village council salutation!

The boxing analogy

Cristian Mihai

boxing_2_lgLet me tell you a bit about this sport called boxing. It’s tough and rough, no doubt about it. But the most difficult and painful parts are not the ones you see on TV. No, the fights themselves are just the parts that people get to see. The real fighting, the struggle, take place off-screen. The time spent practicing, hours and hours of physical training, shadow boxing, sparring. That’s the tough part. A few minutes in a ring with another fighter don’t even come close to what happens during a training.

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Too far apart

Cristian Mihai

many“There are too many of us and we are all too far apart.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

I’m writing these words knowing that people from all over the world are going to read them. People of all ages, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of different religious beliefs. Most of them, I’ll never get a chance to meet. Most of them, I don’t know how they look like, what’s the thing they want most in this world, or what is it that they’re afraid of… most of them are perfect strangers to me.

Yet, simply by writing these words with these strangers in my mind, having the certainty that my words will reach them, they become a little bit more than strangers. They become human beings, just like myself, and that is one of life’s greatest achievements.

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Pictures Tell A Thousand Lies

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It’s cliché for us to say that pictures don’t lie. I equally held this belief until I was woken up from my Kant-like dogmatic slumber by something that happened on BBM. My friend Oheta had used the picture below as his dp on BBM, and at first I just laughed it off, then wisdom spoke to me. Therefore I have risen in defence of these three men that have been so unfairly judged by the world of memes. Before I continue, I’ll assert that these three are men whether or not they have beards, help a pregnant woman or change the world. Being a man is strictly biological. Whether or not they’re good men is left for you to argue after reading this post.
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The picture shows three bearded men sitting in a train while a pregnant lady is standing. One of the men appears to be asleep while the other two were seemingly awake. Then comes the inscription “Beard Doesn’t Make You A Man.”
My defense of these gentlemen will be rooted in the doctrine of “audi alteram partem” which translates to “let the other party be heard.” It is a sin against these men for the maker of this meme to have passed judgment on them without hearing what they had to say. So here is what I have to say;

1. The first guy on the left is seemingly sleeping, so it is apparently impossible for him to have seen the pregnant woman since the picture hasn’t stated otherwise.
2. The picture hasn’t stated whether these two guys are physically fit to stand in the train the way the pregnant woman is standing.
3. The picture wants you to believe that the men are callous, but what if they had asked the lady to sit but she refused? The picture hasn’t said it all.
4. The men in the picture look very exhausted, and who knows what they have been doing all day?
5. What if the man on the extreme right is an undercover agent that is following a target? You want him to stand in the aisle so that the target will see him?
6. What if the man in the middle is lame in the left feet/has a grievous wound on the left feet, which we cannot see because the woman is blocking our view?

You see? I’m not saying it’s cool not to care for pregnant women, but all I’m saying is, pictures can tell a thousand lies depending on whose hands it is. When next you’re tempted to pass judgment using the strength of a picture, remember that pictures don’t tell the full story.
Oh, and thanks Oheta @oheta_agi, for the picture.
Have a great weekend and support GEJ, and our troops.

For Buni Yadi

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image8-620x330On February 25th, 2014, the headline on The Guardian rang, “Boko Haram kills 59 boys at Nigerian boarding school”. Other national dailies had the same story couched in several other words which conveyed the same meaning – 59 Boys had been murdered. It was indeed a painful, senseless and savage massacre.

I have always believed that it was the finest minds that ended up in the Unity schools. In the good old days, it was a thing of great pride to have you or one of yours put on the ‘Pro Unitate’ badge. The standards were high, and we kept our heads high. I don’t think it was any much different with those young brothers in FGC Buni Yadi.

One thing was constant in the mind of every FGC boy – optimism. We always believed that every task or difficulty was surmountable, and all dangers escapable. So I keep wondering, ‘what was on the mind of Goni Ali Ba’amai and the rest of his colleagues as they faced terror that night?’ Did they think, ‘well, this too shall pass?’ When they were being cut down, did they think of the Maths assignment they had to turn in in the next class, or their day wears that needed washing? What did they think of their country, their parents, and their principal? Did they feel let down?

I hope they passed calmly, thinking of their parents and siblings, thinking of the good times they had shared with their colleagues and thinking of the day they’ll meet their loved ones again.
May their deaths always remind us that the young boys had paid the supreme price for learning; therefore we should not relent in making use of our education to better the lot of mankind. The wrong education is worse than no education.

As an old boy, my heart goes out to the family of the slain kids, and the families of every boy, girl, man, and woman that has been slain while the country battled with terrorism, and I pray that God will give the departed rest; and peace to the living.

#ProUnitate
#VivaBuniYadi59

keep your mind, homie.

devri velazquez

dollar bill

Say a little prayer, trust instincts, and find your voice in the midst of millions of other voices attempting to overtalk you at once.

Watching the news breaks my heart. But hearsay and seesay causes it to shatter. Working in the media/public relations/marketing field for almost 6 years now has allowed me to understand a few points that the average ‘consumer’ (TV show viewer, newspaper/blog reader, radio listener) may not notice off the bat. It is so crucial to keep these points in mind next time you let a newscaster feed you bits of information:

  • They are just bits. There is so much more going on. There is always an agenda to be fulfilled. Propaganda is a real thing. We witness the use of sensationalism every single day.
  • It really all comes down to economics and business–money, to put it plainly. Nothing in news or media happens on accident… nothing…

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The End of Relevance

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I have been missing in action for months. Partly because Nigerian Law School makes it almost impossible to think of wanting to think of posting on your blog, and partly because laziness writer’s block. It’s good to be here.

It was William Shakespeare, who said the immortal words (by the way, all the words of Shakespeare are immortal words!),

All the world is a stage,

And the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

Most times we only avert our minds to the truths above on the days of funerals; in sobriety, tears and while shaking our heads, we agree that life is but a stage, and we all, but actors. But I have another angle to this whole concern. Our days of natural life are divided into stages, moments, periods and all things that are distinguishable. Being humans, it’s easy to be at home, thinking the status quo will never change. The truth is, life will change, whether you are ready for it or not. It’s deeply enshrined in the tenets of nature, that change is inevitable. It is not about the cessation of life, it is the death of relevance. And even in the Law of Evidence, what determines admissibility is relevance (pay Mr. Wemmick my consultation fee, I’ve just taught you law).

I visited the compound I used to live in in my undergraduate days; which I packed out of in March 2014, and then this reality hit me, my days there were over. I could only visit there if I had business to do there, else I was just another trespasser. My room had been taken over and life had continued in the most normal pace ever, death of relevance.

Coming to our various lives, it is probably best for us if we are always aware that a day will come when we will not be relevant in some places. Take for instance OBJ going to attend FEC, he’ll not be granted entrance, or maybe he’ll probably have to scale the gate like these men.

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Know when that car has packed up, and use Hausa bus (without prejudice to my Hausa friends); know when you’ve outgrown childhood and act accordingly; know when you have minimum balance in your EcoBANK Savings and act accordingly; know when to leave the country, and when to come back to contest elections; know when your tenure in that office is ending (making allowance for impeachments) and work within your time; know when your make up should be minimal; know when you should be tweeting APC and bashing our beloved GEJ and when you should be quiet; know when to read, knowing that your days in the University are counted, and make them count. Know your exit and leave.

It’s not tidy to be seen hanging around when you’re no longer relevant.

Finally, life is like a game of Musical Chairs, you best be sitting once the music ends.

Have an awesome weekend y’all!

Botswana: An African Model for Progress and Prosperity

The Black Voltaire

bots

The southern African nation of Botswana defied the global economic downturn of the 2007-2009 recession. Instead, it exemplifies the recent transition of economic growth in favor of low-income countries as it jumped from recording one of the world’s lowest per capita income figures of $70 to a middle-income level category of $16,300 within a few decades. Botswana is leaning towards becoming the Singapore or Hong Kong of southern Africa. More importantly, Botswana’s progression of economic growthmanship has become the envy of its neighbors, as well as a source of inspiration, which they should consider emulating.

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